Carlos Ghosn in a statement released on Thursday just days after his abrupt arrival in Beirut from Tokyo, says his family played no role in his escape from Japan.

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“There has been speculation in the media that my wife Carole, and other members of my family played a role in my departure from Japan. All such speculation is inaccurate and false,” Ghosn’s statement said.

“I alone arranged for my departure. My family had no role whatsoever,” it added.
In Japan, top officials have remained largely silent this week since news emerged that Ghosn skipped bail and fled the country, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been camped out in a luxury Tokyo hotel, sharing meals with family, hitting the gym and even playing golf.
The routine, seen in detailed schedules published by major Japanese media outlets, is nothing unusual for the prime minister during the country’s most important holiday of the year. But it’s particularly notable after the dramatic escape of the leading figure in one of Japan’s most high-profile white-collar criminal cases ever.
Abe has made no public comment on Ghosn since he fled, and neither have any of his ministers. Officials at the prime minister’s office and the foreign ministry repeatedly declined to comment when reached by email or phone. Japan goes back to work on Jan. 6.
Abe has already seen his popularity fall in recent months due to a series of scandals that have affected his government. Still, he has repeatedly weathered similar setbacks since taking office to become the country’s longest-serving premier.
Ghosn, who faced trial for financial crimes in Tokyo, secretly fled to Lebanon late last month to escape what he called Japan’s “rigged” justice system.
Lebanon, where the former Renault-Nissan head grew up and has citizenship, provides legal protection against extradition.
Apart from the holidays, one reason for the long silence could be that Abe has limited tools to get Ghosn back to Japan. Lebanon’s foreign ministry has said Ghosn entered the country legally, and it wasn’t aware how he fled.

Miniscule trade

While a senior official told Bloomberg that Japan was set to negotiate with Lebanon to get him to return to face trial, it’s unclear what leverage Tokyo might have over the Middle Eastern nation.
Clamping down on trade, as Abe did in a recent dispute with South Korea, wouldn’t be effective: Japan accounted for 1.5 per cent of Lebanon’s trade in 2018, and most of that was imports.
While Japan has provided Lebanon with aid in the past, the foreign ministry’s website doesn’t list any official development assistance given since March 2018.
There’s no Japanese direct investment in Lebanon and only about 100 Japanese citizens live in the country, compared with roughly 200 Lebanese in Japan, according to the ministry’s website.
Japan’s only hope might be to enlist help from other Middle Eastern countries with which it has closer ties, according to Kazuo Takahashi, an emeritus professor at the Open University who specializes in Middle Eastern affairs.
“Japan gives significant aid to Syria and Syria has leverage over Lebanon,” Takahashi said. Japan might ask the Syrians to pressure Lebanon to give up Ghosn, he said, while adding that he thinks the strategy would be unlikely to work.

“Japan will have to negotiate with the Lebanese government for a handover,” former State Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahisa Sato said on Twitter. “Ghosn is a hero and it won’t be easy.”